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6/27/08

casa ti: The Kitchen, Dining Area, Heat.

I'm ruminating on the kitchen.
Maybe I'm just hungry.

For our kitchen, we decided to move it from David Day's west placement to the center. This really is how our family lives and I see that island being central to breakfast requests, snacks, and pipsqueaks and guests keeping me company while I cook.

We sit down for dinner each night, so it made sense to put the dining table in a nice area by itself where we could linger and recount the exciting adventures of the day. Romantically I envision the sun setting west as we pop open a nice bottle of wine and prepare to enjoy a seasonal meal with friends and family.

But let's get back to the kitchen.

We struggled over honestly asking ourselves how we really would use the stove/oven systems. I imagined balancing out a wood cook stove that would provide a secondary source of heat for the house (solar being primary) yet could be cooked upon in the cool months with the solar cooker in the warm months. But the reality was not so apt- as much as I adore solar cooking, I have yet to successfully make pasta in the solar cooker, and honeychile, we eat a LOT o' pasta. Despite the free wood fallen on the land, burning wood is not the most efficient, green solution.

Scott Kyle of Full Scale Architecture points out that really, "Using raw wood is not desired. Instead, consider propane and solar alternatives for heating. If you must burn, pelletized fuel is more efficient than raw wood. For cooking, I recommend propane for the range, and electric for the oven. Whole house heating off grid can be accomplished of course by solar hot water/radiant heat."

My nimble sailor side asked, "Well why not just reuse a marine stove?" Marine stoves are modernly minimalist, in my mind would be efficient *and* quite stylish in a casa ti. And, dur, being made for a boat, they run off grid.


But free, fallen wood is a hard option to bypass. Plus I was in LOVE, in love with the wood burning Amish-made Baker's Choice cook stoves. So practical, happy, homey, so efficient, so... me, I want it I want it I want it and I want it NOW! I would wear an apron for that stove!

But it seems not to be.

My always-too-sensible husband pointed out that with the efficiency of design and construction materials in our zero energy home, my kitchen dream would easily overheat the house. Kitchen dreams dashed by prefab efficiency! DAG!

So here's a compromise: See that area on the right for a modest but efficient wood stove? Let me tell ya about that stove. Growing up, it was in the rec room of our home, helping to heat but also dry our ice and snow drenched selves, coats, and mittens after a rosy-cheeked day of play. It will be recycled into the casa ti, reused for another generation in our family, and converted to burn pellets.

I guess I shouldn't complain- instead of a choice, I will have it all! The recycled, converted wood stove will be a secondary source of heat on which to simmer stews as I please, the solar oven used seasonally when it's appropriate, and the marine stove to fall back on for quick breakfasts or pasta.

Coming soon: The Kitchen Part 2: The Fridge, Freezer, Philosophy.

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